Oh, oh. Looks like Allan Rock and the University of Ottawa has another loser on their hands.
Amid much fanfare, U. of Zero this week launched its new “positioning” campaign, titled “Defy the Conventional.”
In a marvelous bit of Duckspeak, the university’s VP of propaganda, Louis de Melo, announced: “It’s not so much a tag line, it’s not a marketing campaign, it’s about the substance behind it. What is really the essence, the DNA of the University of Ottawa?”
Readers will recall how 10 years ago, U. of O. spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the last round of advertising rubbish.
Countless focus groups and consultants later, they unveiled the brilliant new slogan: “Canada’s University,” which was promptly pilfered by cross-town rival, Carleton U.
The Cartoonists called themselves “Canada’s Capital University,” so whenever you Googled it, they came up ahead of Ottawa U. Lawyers were called in, legal murmurs ensued, but in the end, everyone went back to sleep.
If nothing else, the new campaign signals an end to the emphasis on Ottawa U. as a francophone institution.
Actually, Allan Rock’s appointment as president in 2008 was the first sign of a sea change. He was the first Anglo enforcer at the school in 103 years.
Ottawa U’s mission over the years has been to serve the Franco-Ontarian community, for which it receives substantial support from the provincial government.
Some 40 years ago, francophone students accounted for nearly 70 per cent of enrolment. Now it hovers around 30 per cent.
And yet faculty of the Gallic persuasion retains inordinate power at the school, while Anglos tend to get seats at the back of the syllabus.
Although the university abandoned its requirement that students must be minimally proficient in French to graduate,
it is still imperative for faculty who covet the perks and salaries of top administrative jobs to sport French handles, if not moustaches.
Traditionally, support staff also has been francophones with heavily accented English and a willingness to maintain a high level of rudeness toward Anglo students.
Anglo professors must, in addition, be willing to teach classes of 300 or more, while the equivalent course in French might be attended by 12-15 students.
A class in English attracting those numbers would likely be cancelled immediatement, but francophone profs can rest easy, knowing the university must keep up the French quota in order to qualify for funding.
(Frank Fact: Some U of O profs also suspect the school has an unusually high rate of plagiarism, owing to the fact that standard detection programs, like DOC Cop or Article Checker, aren’t available in French.)
For decades, U of Zero has tried, with limited success, to bribe significant numbers of French pupils into enrolling, offering more scholarships and admitting students with lower averages than their Anglo counterparts.
Still, French-speaking students have shown more enthusiasm for real universities in Quebec, where they pay lower tuition
and get a better education.
When Rock took the helm in ’08, he vowed that by 2010, U. of O. would rank among the top five Canadian research universities, and would be well known as “Canada’s University.”
But now there’s a new bumper sticker—“Defy the Conventional,” and still no sign of reaching the top five.
Oh, for the old days, when U of Zero could at least fall back on its unofficial motto: “We’re not very good, but we sure have a lot of Tremblays.”